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December 14, 2015

Bento Bako Weekly: Bloody Mary volume 1

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Written by: Kristin
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bloodymary1Title: Bloody Mary
Author: Akaza Samamiya
Publisher: Viz Media (Shojo Beat)
Volume: Volume 1, $9.99
Vintage: 2014 by Kadokawa Shoten, December 2015 by Viz Media
Genre: Vampires, supernatural (and a bit of boys’ love)

Maria is a vampire exorcist. Or, he should be, but he doesn’t know how to access his abilities, so he usually becomes a vampire snack instead. Until the night he’s rescued by another vampire known as Bloody Mary, who begs Maria to kill him. There’s something different about Mary – he isn’t affected by the traditional methods. Sunlight, stakes, garlic; he even has a reflection. He’s tried to die numerous ways, and nothing works, so Maria is his last and only chance. Unfortunately, Maria doesn’t know how to kill him, but he agrees to eventually, as long as Mary protects him until then. Mary is also the type of vampire who refuses to drink blood, which has made him weak, so Maria offers up his own. The blood of a Maria grants vampires strength, but is also addicting, which Mary fears. There’s a lot that Mary fears, but he doesn’t seem to remember much about his past, or even the reason why he wants to die so badly. To find information about his exorcist powers, and discover who Mary really is, Maria delves into the massive library housed in his school. He even enlists Mary’s help to read some of the older texts. That doesn’t sit well with the student council president, Takumi Sakuraba, whose family seems to have some kind of restrictive power over Maria’s family of exorcists. Another vampire named Hydra appears, who knows Mary from the past, and offers Maria the knowledge he seeks.

So much groaning. So much eye-rolling. So much “why was this licensed.” So much “why am I reading this.” Actually, if you liked Loveless by Yun Kouga (which I had a similar reaction to), you’ll probably enjoy this, because it has a similar vibe. If that’s enough for you to go on, then go ahead and skip the rest of this and pick up a copy, because I’m about to get annoyed in my apathy. Reading a title and feeling nothing is probably the worst thing that can happen. At least when there’s something to hate, there’s something to talk about. And while I definitely disliked this title, I wouldn’t say I out and out hated it. That would be giving it too much credit. Mostly I was bored, and mildly annoyed by reading such drivel. None of the characters interest me. Mary is an annoying brat. Marie is, I assume, supposed to be enigmatic or something, but he’s more an erratic mess. Takumi is probably supposed to be the hot, cool, super mysterious guy (check out that mole under his eye), but he’s flat. Hydra is like the girl injected into a yaoi just so it’s not all gay boys. Most of Samamiya’s work is in yaoi, so I’m not surprised at the leanings here, but it’s awkward and forced, like she felt she had to include it. Everything is kind of awkward and forced, really, including the gags (which is mostly just chibi Mary being tossed around, as if the “chibi” itself is the joke). Actually, I was amused by one part, just not in a good way. Mary is 400-years-old, not 4,000. Languages from 400 years ago aren’t “ancient,” but apparently no one in Marie’s world can read anything that old. I’m also baffled by Marie not knowing how to access his powers, when it’s a skill passed down through his family (and his father seems to have known how to do things). That said, Marie’s father might have died when Marie was very young, without time to pass on his knowledge. And for whatever reason, the Sakuraba family wants to keep that knowledge from Marie. The only thing of interest I found was the mystery of Marie’s name. His full name is Ichiro Rosario di Maria, which suggests “Maria” is either an old surname or a title passed down. It makes me wonder how old the name is, and if it has religious connotations (Mary/Maria usually does in supernatural stories). But not wonder enough to bother reading this just to find that out. The artwork is fine. It’s clear and expressive, and fits the story’s tone, but nothing stands out to me. I’m curious why this was licensed when Samamiya has no previous sales base here (I would have expected an effort to build her name with her yaoi titles first), other than the fact that it’s vampires and vampires tend to sell. Although personally I’m growing weary of them.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



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